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Local agencies need help with food bank closed since November

Posted: Wednesday, December 05, 2001

Local nonprofit agencies helping the needy are in need of some help themselves since the Southeast Alaska Food Bank stopped distributing food Nov.1.

Agencies such as the Glory Hole, the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul Society, which offer food baskets and meals to the poor and homeless, have had to find other sources of food since the food bank's closure.

The food bank had continued to distribute food after it closed in May to prepare for the construction of its new building. It was able to store some food temporarily while it was constructing the building but recently lost the donated space, said food bank board member Lorraine Derr.

A slowdown in the construction of the building, a lack of funds and poor weather have delayed the completion of the project on Crazy Horse Drive, Derr said. She said she hopes the project will be completed by Feb. 1 but wants to resume food distribution before then.

"When people are volunteering their time you can't holler at them for not being able to work," Derr said. "What we really need is to find a warehouse someone is willing to donate or charge a low rent for until March. ... A warm place with about 1,000 square feet and then we could get the food bank open (to agencies) again."

She said the food bank may get access to two Alaska Marine Line container vans that have freezer and refrigeration capabilities.

Hank Benton, a volunteer food distributor at St. Vincent's, which runs a family shelter, said it has had to buy the food it can't get through trade with other nonprofits and donations, which takes away funds from other programs.

Joan Decker, executive director for the Glory Hole, a homeless shelter downtown, said it has had less variety and less food.

"We can't afford to buy certain things so we are making do," she said. "It's not terrible. But we're not getting as much stuff as we usually do. We are still able to feed everyone but - we have a hearty group of people here."

She said the Glory Hole has had to cut back on the amount of food in food boxes distributed to the poor.

Decker said Costco has been donating its excess produce as well as some of the products used for in-store demonstrations.

She also said the Glory Hole has an excess of bread. However, it does not have canned goods, lunch meats, soups, vegetables or dairy products and its dry goods supply is limited, she said.

What little excess the nonprofit agencies have they have been sharing with other agencies, said Maj. Larry Fankhauser of the Salvation Army.

"Calls come into us from various places (agencies) asking what we have and what we need," he said. "Then we kind of get together and share what we have with each other."

Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.



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